Talking to a lot of my female friends, we have been feeling angry since the Harvey Weinstein revelations and the reactions thereafter. I have been on the receiving end of sexism, sexual attack and countless sexual misconduct experiences in the workplace.
One of these was an actor, and I have found myself wanting to send a nasty tweet from time to time. I haven’t. It was a different world back then. Now, I’m not sure if the environment has changed, or if I’ve got older, wiser or more kick ass and it’s stopped happening. I have no idea what it is like to be a young woman now. And yet, I haven’t had the same conversations as we did back then: ‘Be careful of him, he’s a bit of a lech’ (short for lecherous). The word lecherous was used to infer about as much danger as eccentric, but we all knew what it meant, and you’d avoid being in a room alone with ‘him’.
Some of my attacks, I told the production company about. This was in theatre and I was told to ‘get a sense of humour’ or ‘say anything and you’ll not work in the West End again’. Yes, I feel angry, because at the time it was some kind of ‘rite of passage’ and there was nothing you could do about it. We were taught that this was a man’s nature and that all men were like this, to a greater or lesser degree. Your job as a woman was not to get caught by them.
Now this is what I’m really angry about, because this was propagated by women, and now I know that NOT all men are like this. That this is NOT in all men’s nature. This is the nature of a man with low self-esteem or a predator! Power corrupts, but only the corruptible!
Flirting at work is fun, it makes the day go quicker, and most relationships start in the workplace. I hope that men will not be afraid to show attraction; let’s not make everything start in the clinical environment of the ‘online’ world. Let us not propagate the idea that men are just like this, by doing so we abuse men. I know men who are now almost uncomfortable to sit next to a woman at work.
I’m so pleased we have opened up this conversation and we can now point out that this isn’t normal behaviour and change can take place.